I’ll be honest and say leaving the comfort of Paris and the person I was traveling with was one of the most lonely and sad moments I had my entire trip. After this point I was alone. It was very crumbling to my ego packing my gear for the flight and I’ll be honest, I did break down.
Budapest is a place that I need to go back to to fully be immersed in. During my week there I experienced stress, injury, angry drivers, and a constant battle with the language. On the flipside, I experienced a fantastic coffee community, great food, and humbling architecture. It isn’t black and white and it's hard to fully explain. My time spent there was very much not ideal so my opinion on this shouldn’t be taken as truth.
I left Paris late around 530pm and got ready for the relatively short flight from France to Budapest. My bike was in a cardboard box disassembled and very fragile so that was worrying me throughout the entire flight as well as many other factors about starting my trip. Luckily I got it to my Airbnb in Budapest still in the box and I spent the night assembling my bike in a new strange place.
My first night in the city I went and ate a dish with sausage, potatoes, and lots of paprika and drank beer. Since I was alone I was able to talk with the server a lot. We chatted, he gave me WiFi, and kept refilling my beer making the meal more and more delicious. I was tired so it was pleasant to see a friendly face and just sit down and relax. After about an hour and a half eating and drinking I stepped back outside and retired to finish putting my bike together.
Being a coffee person in a city that is hosting a major coffee event is very amazing and strange. You can’t go into any coffee shop without seeing someone you recognize or are friends with. You go into a cafe and the baristas are being bombarded with questions about coffee all while coffee professionals are tasting and talking about coffee.
Coming only from the United States it was amazing to first drink coffee from roasters that I fantasize and wish I had more access to in the United States(Collective, Barn, Koppi, ect) and the coffee shops in Budapest all cater to that. Espresso Embassy serves delicious coffee and pastries with fantastic serve, My Little Melbourne has a fantastic brew bar that was absolutely swamped with drinks but the barista still pushed through happily making beverages for all the fanatical coffee people.
I had a particular fantastic experience at Kontact coffee. It took me a while to find but once I did I was met with the ending of a cupping and awesome people serving a very simple coffee menu. The barista spoke with me about my bike and I was served a deliciously bright espresso. The whole experience was so welcoming after a day tasting coffees and working on the bike.
World of Coffee in Budapest was just what I’m used to in the States but with a European overlay. Being able to taste all the coffees and met people who I have only read about was truly fantastic. There were some friendly faces that I had met at past coffee events but mostly I was in a completely new world. A coffee event like that is hard to really describe to someone but it's sort of like church camp. You go for a few days and are so surrounded by something that when you come back you are on fire. It is truly a special experience and one that I want all people interested in coffee to experience. It can be overwhelming to experience alone but after it is all done, it is so worth it.
I didn’t fully experience Budapest as a city until my last day. Two days at World of Coffee and another day recovering my a foot injury I acquired going for a run in Paris wearing sandals, I was finally able to bike around and see the city. The avenue leading to the Hősök tere was beautifully lined with foreign embassies and mansions. Not knowing how to ride a bike in a populated city I stuck mostly to sidewalks and crossed streets by foot. Behind the Hősök tere I walked through beautiful gardens where people ate, drank and socialized. Of course, I did none of that and instead biked around some more until I finally went bike to my Airbnb to pack for the the next day's ride to Bratislava.
In retrospect; I should’ve done more. I did a lot of preparing physically and mentally for my first days on the bike.
You Should : take a riverboat cruise on the Danube, not get injured, taste fantastic coffee, learn some of the language, drink beer, eat lots
You Shouldn’t : get injured, spend all time in your room resting a sore foot